Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identified five stages. I like the model which expands them into seven. As I have remarked before (and is generally agreed) they don't happen in neat, linear order — but the current one is new.
I'm glad to say I've never in my life suffered from it before, though I've witnessed how awful it can be for others. With no previous first-hand experience, it took me a little while to label it. I've been calling it boredom, apathy, emptiness. Every activity has been feeling pointless, every pleasure lack-lustre. I've even lost interest in the taste of food.
Eventually these things started adding up and I thought to re-read the stages of grief. Ah yes, there it is, in both the five- and seven-stage models: depression. Those other things I mentioned are symptoms, and so are loneliness and reflecting on the past, which I've been experiencing too. It's not a very severe case, I suppose: not profound despair, just a kind of dullness. I was about to say, 'I haven't been feeling suicidal or anything' — but hang on, yes, those thoughts have crossed my mind recently. Only they too seemed uninteresting, nothing to take seriously. I would have expected them to be full of drama. Perhaps, after all, they sneak up, insidious.
Don't go panicking, anyone, please. I'm really not going to act on them. I couldn't leave my poor little cats uncared-for. I wouldn't so upset my family and friends. And it would let Andrew down. He was concerned about the cats when he was dying. 'The poor little pussy cats,' he called them then, wishing he could see them again. He relied on me to look after them. Even more, he wanted me to live my life and be happy; I know that.
Besides, I've just made arrangements to start seeing my psychologist again, a woman Andrew and I used to consult to help us through various situations in the past. How ironic to look back and recall our last appointment with her many months ago, when we were coping with everything so well that we didn't see the need to continue. Only a short time later his physical health began a steeper decline, and then the Alzheimer's became more pronounced ... ah well. Anyway, she's very good.
Oddly enough, it wasn't the depression which made me think of seeing her again, but a woolly-mindedness I've developed. I even asked my GP, the other day, to give me the cognitive test for dementia again. As he put it, I 'blitzed it in' with a perfect score, and I could tell while I was doing it that what it measures is something different in quality from what I've been experiencing.
I have been told that memory gaps and absent-mindedness are symptoms of grief, and I had them more dramatically in the early days. As I say, it's not a linear progression; here they are, back again. So I thought I had reached the time when being with my grief and observing the process might not be quite enough any more. And that was before I realised I'm depressed! Now, getting help is looking even more like a damn good idea.
It's quite educational, actually, to observe what depression feels like on the inside — this degree of it anyhow. I don't want to find out how a more severe form might feel!